Nacho
Posted: 21 June 2010 07:09 AM   [ Ignore ]
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The Online Etymology Dictionary makes the following statement: ‘according to “The Dallas Morning News” [Oct. 22, 1995], named for restaurant cook Ignacio Anaya, who invented the dish in the Mexican border town of Piedras Negras in 1943’. Does this have the ring of truth?

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Posted: 21 June 2010 07:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Yes, in the sense that Nacho is a common nickname for Ignacio, but “ring of truth” is not the same as truth.  The OED has a nicely balanced etymology from last December:

[Origin uncertain. Perhaps <Mexican Spanish Nacho, pet-form of the male forename Ignacio (with reference to the supposed creator of the dish: see note below).
  A Mexican chef, Ignacio (‘Nacho’) Anaya, who worked in the Piedras Negras area in the 1940s, is often credited with creating the first nachos (see e.g. quot. 1970).]

[...]1970 For Goodness Sake! (Church of Redeemer, Eagle Pass, Texas) 89 Nacho Specials. This simple yet delicious snack originated some years ago in Old Victory Club in Piedras Negras, Mexico when a group of Eagle Pass women asked the chef, Nacho, to make something for them to eat with their cocktails.

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Posted: 21 June 2010 07:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Despite my etymythology alarm sounding, this one seems to be true. Adrianna Orr of the OED did a nice write up on how she uncovered the origin.

The OED3 entry itself, however, is very conservative, stating:

Origin uncertain. Perhaps <Mexican Spanish Nacho, pet-form of the male forename Ignacio (with reference to the supposed creator of the dish: see note below).

A Mexican chef, Ignacio (‘Nacho’) Anaya, who worked in the Piedras Negras area in the 1940s, is often credited with creating the first nachos (see e.g. quot. 1970).]

I think they could safely upgrade this to a “probably” and still be on the conservative side.

Dishes are commonly named after the chef’s who create them (e.g., Cesar salad), but claims for invention and individual naming are always suspect. So skepticism is usually warranted, but should not be unduly applied.

[Pipped by languagehat]

Also note these earlier cites:

1948 San Antonio (Texas) Light 28 Jan. 14A (advt.) Latin Quarter Mexican Restaurant...”Nachos” (Mexican Hors-D’-Oeuvres)...35c Here is a real dainty! Golden fried tortilla strips, deliciously spiced, topped with mellow, melted cheese and garnished with chili jalapeno bits. 1949 J. TRAHEY Taste of Texas 27 He returned carrying a large dish of Nachos Especiales. “These Nachos,” said Pedro, “will help El Capitan—soon he will forget his troubles for nachos make one romantic.”

The early San Antonio appearance and the phrase Nachos Especiales support the origin story.

[ Edited: 21 June 2010 07:51 AM by Dave Wilton ]
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Posted: 21 June 2010 07:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Thanks, Dave. The article by Ms Orr is a good example of how good etymologies are done.

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Posted: 21 June 2010 10:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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A really nice story! Ignacio is, of course, the Spanish version of Ignatius which, according to the website Behind the Name, is a Latin name of Etruscan origin and unknown meaning. Any clues?

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Posted: 21 June 2010 12:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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The Hanks/Hodges Dictionary of First Names says “Late Latin name, derived from the old Roman family name Egnatius (of uncertain origin, possibly Etruscan). This was altered in the early Christian period by association with Latin ignis fire.”

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Posted: 22 June 2010 07:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Interesting to read that the name of a spicy food originated partly in the Latin word for fire. Or was influenced by.  Or ... whatever.  I feel I have to cover all the bases so I’m not picked on.

[ Edited: 22 June 2010 07:59 AM by ElizaD ]
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